!![[Literature/TheLittleMermaid The Short Story]]
* AesopCollateralDamage: Andersen had the mermaid transfigured into a daughter of the air, who after three hundred years of good deeds can go to heaven. Then he re-revised it, so it's not ''her'' good deeds that earn her a soul -- it's ''yours!'' -- every child listening to the story. P.L. Travers snapped at Andersen in one of her folklore essays: "'But a year taken off when a child behaves and a tear shed and a day added whenever a child is naughty? Andersen, this is blackmail. And the children know it and say nothing. There's magnanimity for you."
* ValuesDissonance: Modern readers often have trouble with the story's moral of "Even heathen can reach salvation if they suffer enough."
* TheWoobie: Dear God, Hans, how much does this poor girl have to go through? For the crime of being born a fay being rather than an oh-so-lucky human, she has to suffer endless pain, have her tongue cut out, commit suicide, and then hope that no child cries or is naughty for 300 years straight before she can get into heaven?
!![[Disney/TheLittleMermaid The Disney film]]

* AlternateAesopInterpretation: The film doesn't necessarily have AnAesop - but it's been argued that the story is really a cautionary tale for parents. Triton is pretty applicable to the standard overprotective parent that goes too far and unwittingly sends his child into the arms of someone who wants to hurt and exploit her.
* {{Applicability}}: Ariel's main motivation for becoming a human. While both her interests in human culture and Eric are reasons why she became a human, it's a matter of debate as to which one was the bigger motivation for her. It's also been argued that Ariel's becoming human can be seen as a metaphor for a transgender woman transitioning. She always wanted to join the human world (metaphor for transitioning), as she sings "Part of Your World" before she meets Eric. Then when she meets Eric, she decides to transition then so she can be with him - she always wanted to eventually, the prospect of getting a boyfriend just gave her the final push, as is the case with some transgender women. So Ariel gets legs and, one can assume, what goes between them. And the scene right afterward where she goes to the surface and gasps for air is rather orgasmic - as a transgender woman might try out her new parts. Also there is the rejection by and later reconciliation with her father, as a coming-out story might have. Check out some more info [[http://www.mommyish.com/2011/06/03/do-transgender-little-girls-have-a-fascination-with-mermaids/ here]].
* BaseBreaker: Is Ariel a good character/role model or a terrible one?
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Chef Louis and his musical number, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcyhVHrmlMU Les Poissons]]".
* DracoInLeatherPants: Ursula gets this sometimes. You can see comments on Youtube videos taking about how she clearly explained the deal to Ariel, and how Ariel was stupid for taking it. While Ariel was being naive, fans are forgetting that Ursula's original goal was to rule the ocean world and land, and was willing to destroy the kingdom if she could. This is also forgetting that Ursula's ''raison d'etre'' is to catch people at the very moment when they're prone to making rash decisions -- and then, if it looks like they might win out, she's not above actively sabotaging their deal.
* EarWorm: Every song.
* EnsembleDarkhorse:
** Sebastian was so popular that voice actor Samuel E. Wright recorded two albums as the character. There was even a tie-in Disney Channel special, and the character also starred in his own shorts on the short-lived SaturdayMorningCartoon ''WesternAnimation/RawToonage'', along with his nemesis [[EvilChef Louis]].
** "Vanessa" (Ursula's disguised form) is ''really'' popular with some fans.
* EpilepticTrees: In ''Literature/TheDaVinciCode'', author Creator/DanBrown puts forth the theory that the directors and animators were pagan goddess worshipers and scattered clues and obscure references to the "Sacred Feminine" throughout the film, including Ariel's red hair. The reality is far less mystical though: the animators chose to make Ariel a redhead to avoid comparisons with Creator/DarylHannah's blonde mermaid character from ''{{Film/Splash}}'', and also because it gave a nice contrast with the blue sea and her green tail.
* EvilIsSexy: Ursula in her Vanessa status. Some viewers found Ursula sexy even in her original form. "Don't underestimate the importance of [[ChewingTheScenery BODY LANGUAGE!]]".
* FairForItsDay: Today this movie is considered by some to be rather cringeworthy, as its heroine is a girl who abandons her family and her home for a guy she hardly knows. At the time though, Ariel was written by Disney to be a proactive girl, following after the more passive and demure Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora. She also was the first Disney princess to set out and win the heart of the guy she loved, rather than have him show up and carry her off. (And she was also the first Disney princess to save the life of her prince, twice.)
* FanPreferredCouple: For some bizarre reason, whenever Disney pops up on Imageboards [[YuriGenre /u/]], they ship Ariel with Meg from ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'' (something we need to thank to [[http://batlesbo.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=ariel batlesbo]] and [[http://x-arielle.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=ariel X-Arielle]]).
** Other ''very'' popular pairings in the fandom are Ariel/[[Disney/TreasurePlanet Jim Hawkins]] and Ariel/[[Franchise/KingdomHearts Sora]].
** Some people also ship [[LesYay Ariel/Ursula]].
* FreudWasRight:
** The original VHS cover...oh, the grief that one (just ''one'') of the coral spires on Triton's castle caused...
** Ariel gasping for breath once reaching the surface after being changed into a human is very orgasmic-looking
* GenreTurningPoint: Started the Animation Renaissance.
* GeniusBonus:
** Only true mythology fans will recognize Ursula and Morgana as cecaelias, a race of half-octopus,half-human creatures.
** Ariel is named after the air spirit from Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TheTempest''. This is most likely a reference to the original ending, in which the un-named mermaid [[spoiler: dies and turns into an air spirit]].
* GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff: Ariel is unironically [[http://www.pixiv.net/search.php?s_mode=s_tag&word=%E3%82%A2%E3%83%AA%E3%82%A8%E3%83%AB the most popular Disney Princess in Japan than the native United States, since Japanese Disney fans love telling stories about Mermaids.]]
* HilariousInHindsight:
** "Oh Eric, don't believe in any of this [[WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants nautical nonsense]]."
** Also either this or FunnyAneurysmMoment, but Ariel (and by proxy, Vanessa), was originally potentially going to be voiced by Creator/MelissaFahn. Given [[Manga/LoveHina who she later acted as a dub voice for]], the fact that she later plays a woman who actually attempts to sabotage a relationship between the main character and her lover through very ''similar'' methods to what Vanessa did to Ariel is somewhat of an eyeopener.
** Ursula calling Ariel "Angelfish". Fast forward twenty one years and [[WesternAnimation/YoungJustice another ocean dweller calls another redhead "Angelfish"]] and earns himself a spot on TheScrappy list.
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Vanessa strangling Scuttle + "Why you little—!"]].
** In the original Hans Christian Andersen book, the mermaid had to earn an immortal soul at the end where she previously had none, and nowadays it is often joked that gingers have no soul. Consider Ariel's hair color in the Disney adaptation.
** Vanessa, a villainous split personality of {{BigBad/Ursula}}, is voiced by Creator/JodiBenson. In the English dub of ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'', Jodi Benson voices Millenia, a villainous split personality.
** Ariel was modelled after actress Alyssa Milano. Years later, Milano's character on ''{{Series/Charmed}}'' would be turned into a mermaid - in a plot that heavily references this film. To make it even more hilarious, Milano is ''terrified'' of water (and shooting the underwater scenes were very tricky for her).
* InternetBackdraft: The 2013 theatrical re-release comes with [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYpRQ5Mw2lM an iOS app that gives children an interactive experience]] to go along with the movie. Adults worried that the app would distract people from actually watching the movie were not pleased with this.
* MagnificentBastard: Ursula for how she seems to be ahead of the game virtually before the game (the plot) has even begun!
* MemeticMutation:
** Say the words "Look at this stuff" to any girl born since, say, 1984, and they'll immediately be able to sing the entirety of "Part Of Your World" back.
** "Don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!!!"
** Two words: [[http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/hipster-mermaid-hipster-ariel Hipster Mermaid]].
** [[Franchise/TheMuppets With of all the]] [[Creator/{{ABC}} acquisitions Disney]] [[Creator/{{Pixar}} has made]] [[Franchise/StarWars over the]] [[Creator/MarvelComics past two decades]], "Part of that World" has been parodied again and again anytime Disney thinks "But who cares? No big deal. I want more", and acquires something new.
* MoralEventHorizon: Ursula starts well over the line and really crosses when she interferes with her own deal with Ariel and hypnotizes Eric into falling in love with her in disguise. It gets worse when she attempts to blast Ariel with the [[DeathRay trident]], after turning into a [[OneWingedAngel giant version of herself]]. Also in the TV series, she attempts to murder an alleged bad-luck creature despite it being completely harmless to begin with.
* RonTheDeathEater: Being on two opposing sides of an issue, both Ariel and King Triton have people who ignore all faults in one while demonizing the other.

* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: The movie seems a bit like a paint-by-numbers Disney flick these days. Literally everything about it was new and groundbreaking at the time. Merging a fairy tale with Broadway elements? This was the first film to really popularize that formula. So numerous animated films these days owe their existence to this one. Another element from this one, that its successor ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' missed: the musical elements were sort of justified in-universe: one of the main characters is a concert composer and Ariel's singing voice is a plot point. Ursula also delivers a very theatre-inspired monologue in her first scenes, something which the later Disney villains didn't do.
* SignatureScene:
** The scene of Ariel finishing her IWantSong reprise, which shows her singing on a boulder while a wave crashes behind her in the background, is almost always the one scene that you will see in Disney's advertising and commercial spots that mention this movie.
** The underwater musical in "Under the Sea" may be another one. Particularly the shot of the little sea horses swimming up around Ariel at the end are put in many generic Disney-referring clips.
** There's a third one, the one in which Ariel rises from the ocean after being turned human by Ursula.
* SignatureSong: "Under the Sea".
* {{Squick}}: Ursula. All the time. Especially when talking to Ariel and performing a lot of giggling like a Burlesque entertainer.
* StrawmanHasAPoint: Triton is an intolerant Jerkass telling Ariel how cruel and evil humans are, since Ariel's idealistic views all turn out to be right. (Though through MoralLuck--neither had any way of knowing their view of humans was the right one based on the limited information they had at the time, living under the sea.) However, humans do catch and eat fish, which are 100% sentient in this mythos. Of course, humans don't realize that (despite Eric apparently being able to hear Sebastian naming Ariel just fine), and Triton destroying all of Ariel's stuff to try to force her to stay away from humans was still wrong. The CarnivoreConfusion doesn't help matters much - in real life, fish eat other fish all the time!
** On a lesser note, Triton and Sebastian scolding Ariel for missing the concert. Based on Flounder's reaction, it seems the audience is supposed to think they shouldn't reprimand her ''at all'' ("But it wasn't her fault!"). However, this is far from Ariel's first no-show (as Sebastian noted earlier, "If only she'd show up for rehearsal once in a while," and Triton's "I just don't know what we're going to do with you, young lady"), and they have a point that because of her absence, the concert was ruined and those in it were humiliated. While Triton and Sebastian are too hard on her and won't hear her out, they have every right to be angry and hold her accountable for her actions.
* SuperlativeDubbing: Ariel's stunning Norwegian voice done by Sissel Kyrkjebø gained a lot of attention, to the point she went on to voice Ariel in the Danish and Swedish dubs as well. To further exemplify the beauty of Sissel's voice, she's also the OneWomanWail you hear in the background on the ''Film/{{Titanic|1997}}'' soundtrack.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSong: The finish of "Part of Your World" in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'' is Ashman and [[Music/AlanMenken Menken]] recycling part of one of ''their own songs'', "Somewhere That's Green", from ''Theatre/LittleShopOfHorrors''.
** Pay close attention to Louis the chef's ditty "Le Poisson", which has the same melody as "[[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast Be Our Guest]]".
* WhatMeasureIsANonBadass: People love to throw up the "Ariel is a stupid bitch and a bad rolemodel for little girls who THROWS HER LIFE AWAY FOR A GUY" pseudo-reason, without bothering to dwell into her reasons and psyche (she already wanted to see the human world, Eric was mostly the push she needed to take the decision to go there, etc). Apparently a woman isn't allowed to fall in romantic love ''ever'', specially if it's a teenage girl with next-to-none real life experience!
** The "feminist" Ariel bashing can also cross into straightforward SlutShaming [[http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/ranked/ranked-disney-princesses-from-least-to-most-feminist because apparently "you aren't empowered enough if you wear a seashell bikini"]].
** Although this is [[http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/06/18/not-a-fish-not-yet-a-human/ not a universal view]] among feminists.
* TheWoobie: Ariel is ''really'' good at looking like a kicked puppy.

!!The spin-offs

* BadassDecay: Eric and Triton in both the sequel and musical.
** Also, the Evil Manta in his fourth/final appearance in the TV show.
* EnsembleDarkhorse:
** [[Creator/TimCurry Evil Manta]] from the TV series.
** [[ThreateningShark Undertow]] from the sequel. With Melody being a copy of her mother, Morgana and her sting rays being copies of Ursula, Flotsam, and Jetsam, and Tip and Dash being copies of...[[Disney/TheLionKing Timon and Pumbaa]], Undertow is the only new character with some originality. Doesn't hurt that he's voiced by Creator/ClancyBrown.
** Benjamin from the prequel. While the movie doesn't sit too well with the fans most agree that he is its saving grace, being an AmbiguouslyGay and yet still very cute manatee.
** Gabriella in tv series, a deaf mermaid who used sign language (her octopus sidekick served as a translator) and appeared in two episodes. Fans see her adorable.
* FanPreferredCouple: [[Disney/TreasurePlanet Jim Hawkins]] and Melody.
** Ursula/Evil Manta, [[ShipsThatPassInTheNight despite the both of them not having any sort of interactions in the TV Series]].
* FunnyAneurysmMoment[=/=]HarsherInHindsight: In-universe example: In the episode "Metal Fish", Ariel saves Hans Christian Andersen, and it is heavily implied that he ended up writing the story in honor of her saving him. Said story ended up published a year later in the story, and given what happened to the character based on her, it's unlikely that Andersen was too happy that Ariel married Eric.
* MagnificentBastard: The Evil Manta from the series, who manages to turn the different species of the entire kingdom against each other in his debut episode. Not only that, he also tricked Ariel into setting him free to begin with. Oh, and he's voiced by Creator/TimCurry, no less. Though his fourth and final appearance puts him through {{Badass|Decay}} and VillainDecay; suddenly he's a father, Tim Curry voices him a lot less creepily, and he ends up with some redeeming qualities.
* RonTheDeathEater: Ariel also gets some of this in regards to her parenting towards Melody in the sequel. Many fans are a little too eager to sham her by calling her a hypocrite because of how overprotective she was of Melody, ignoring that Ariel did try to keep Melody from making the same mistakes she did. Also that Triton was being paranoid about humans in general when he tried to keep Ariel safe, while Ariel was trying to protect Melody from a ''definite'' threat in Morgana. (Although it doesn't help that Ariel doesn't sit Melody down and explain what the "''definite'' threat" ''is'', but simply tells her to stay away from the ocean because "it's dangerous," when she herself understandably didn't believe her father when he said to stay away from the surface because "humans are dangerous.")
** Also bordering with a major case of ItRunsInTheFamily and AdultFear: Triton may have been paranoid, but his heart was in the right place, and he proved to love her daughter so much to sacrifice everything, including himself, to keep her safe and happy. Exactly what Ariel did: she just needed to be a mother herself to understand how hard is being a parent.
* StrawmanHasAPoint: Triton has even more of a point if you've seen ''Ariel's Beginning'' and consider it to be canon. [[spoiler:Ariel's mother was killed when human fishermen came to steal mermaid relics and accidentally(?) rammed their boat into her.]] Even if Triton accepted her passing in the end, that doesn't necessarily mean that he thinks highly of humans. It's no wonder he doesn't like humans--they [[spoiler:killed his wife!]]
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter: The Evil Manta. He was at first set up as the main villain of the animated series instead of Ursula, since the series takes place before the movie, and it would make a lot less sense for Ariel to make that deal with Ursula if she had already faced and fought against her before their first meeting in the movie. Only, after a while, Ursula ''did'' appear in the series, after which Manta only appeared in one more episode. Plus the possibility of him being the villain of the sequel instead of "[[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute Ursula's crazy sister]]".
* UnfortunateCharacterDesign: [[SomethingElseAlsoRises The priest]]. (Although this too is an [[http://snopes.com/disney/films/minister.asp urban legend]].)
* VillainDecay:
** Though not for lack of trying, Ursula was never quite as menacing in the show as she was in the movie. The only time she was about to cross the [[MoralEventHorizon Moral Event Horizon]] was when she tried to kill the harmless "[[NotEvilJustMisunderstood bad-luck creature]]" from the episode ''Against the tide''.
** In the series, so did the Evil Manta.
* TheWoobie:
** King Triton in ''Ariel's Beginning''. The guy lost his wife Athena in a pirate attack, and many years later he still can't listen to music without being reminded of that tragic happening. Through the whole movie he looks so sad and depressed of what he had lost, and his strained relationship with Ariel ain't helping him.
** It gets worse: by the first movie, his relationship with Ariel is so damaged that she prefers trying her luck with Ursula than trusting him again, he's visibly distraught and blaming himself for her escape and, when finally after years of bickering manages to patch his relationship with his daughter, he's grimly reminded that Ariel forgave him ''at her own marriage''. When he realizes that ''he's going to miss her'', he also realizes that now Ariel has her own family to care for, and he can never, ever get back the time they spent bickering. And then, in the second movie, we find out that he didn't even get to be a grandfather for his (possibly) first granddaughter.
** Melody in the sequel after being humiliated at her birthday party.
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